Champions Online Going Free

Atari has announced that they will be making Champions Online free to play starting Q1 2011. Players will be able to purchase Adventure Packs, items, powers and costume pieces inside Cryptic’s C-Store and a $14.99 per month subscription gives Gold members access to most of the game’s content and extra features.

“Transitioning Champions Online to the free-to-play model is a great opportunity to reach a whole new audience of PC gamers that view subscription fees as a barrier to entry,” said John Needham, CEO of Cryptic Studios. “By taking care of our current subscription-based community and welcoming the addition of new players through free-to-play, Champions Online is poised to build upon its success and to establish a new leadership position as the first free-to-play superhero MMO.”

The Champions Online free-to-play closed beta test begins on November 9, 2010. To learn more about Champions Online Free-to-Play, please visit www.champions-online.com/f2p.

Zynga Files Patent Over Virtual Currency

Zynga has filed a patent on purchased in-game currency. The company has made hundreds of millions of dollars off of the sale of its in-game currencies.

The patent is specifically for players withdrawing virtual currency for cash and not the other way around; an important distinction since it might otherwise run afoul of certain gambling laws. If granted, this patent may give Zynga extra leverage with Facebook and other social game makers.

Source: VentureBeat

Wii RemotePlus Becomes New Standard

Nintendo of America has announced that it has sold over 65.3 million Wii Remote controllers in the U.S. since the Wii launched in November 2006. Roughly, 30.41 million included in Wii hardware bundles, 18.56 million sold separately and 12.92 million sold with Wii Play, with over three million sold in different colors; roughly 52.9 million Nunchuk controllers have been sold in the U.S. through the end of September.

Nintendo also revealed that the Wii Remote Plus, which features the MotionPlus technology built-in, will become the new standard for the system on November 7. It will be available in special bundles, hardware packages and sold separately for $39.99.

PSN Ad Revenue Up 60 Percent

This past year, ad revenue from PSN has increased by 60 percent. While The Tester has been successful and is entering its second season, Sony admits that a learning curve has been involved.

“We’ve really had to shift our mindset from a gaming company to a media company,” said Susan Panico, senior director of PlayStation Network. “You need more flexibility. Original series are a more passive entertainment. They are a little out of our initial purview. For one thing, we didn t always have the capability to sell this content.”

“Sony has sold more ads for season two of The Tester with companies like Ford, Electronic Arts and The U.S. Air Force. The goal of the show is to reach 3.5 million downloads, but regardless of how it does, Sony isn’t going to rush into lots more programming. There are more things coming, but you won t see a huge rollout,” she said. “We have a small [programming] team so we want to really hone in on franchises. It makes perfect sense for us to create content that keeps people coming back.”

Source: MediaWeek

WiiWare Developer Laments Lack Of PR

Apple has made a killing off of the downloadable games on their iOS devices. Nintendo has tried to compete with Apple by offering their own downloadable services, but Zoonami founder Martin Hollis doesn’t think they’ve been quite as capable with it.

“Apple have had such massive success in capturing media attention – they’ve sucked all of the air out of it,” he said. “I don’t know that Nintendo’s putting a great deal of energy into trying to generate PR for WiiWare or DSiWare.”

Hollis was still bullish on the WiiWare business model, adding, “My impression is that you can make a game if you’ve got a few thousand Euros, Dollars, Pounds – because you will need a dev kit or two.. [If] you’ve got two really talented guys, you can make a game, and you can sell 200,000 and upwards. Some of the titles are 8 British pounds or 10 British pounds.”

“Our experience was extremely positive, but our title was a second-party title and it did have some TV advertising with a spot inside a larger advert for Wii,” continued Hollis. “We assume that has to have an impact. As for margins, it’s always the case that, if you make a good game you’re selling ten or a hundred times as many units as the guy who made a mediocre game, a game that’s maybe a little bit sub-par. Not much, but just a little bit. So that factor completely overrides any other.”

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

App Store Update

The Apple Store app was updated recently with more features. The free Apple Store 1.1 now gives engraving and gift wrapping options and store appointments can be added to iCal.

The Apple Store app also allows users to check-in for Genius Bar appointments and reservation pickups. The app can also use iOS’s Location Services to find nearby stores and offer additional services.

Source: MacWorld

Assassin’s Creed: Why Online Will Grow The Business

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood will be the first game in the Ubisoft series to feature online multiplayer. According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, the offering for competitive and cooperative multiplayer was an important part of growing the franchise.

“It’s more and more in fashion to play with friends Call of Duty showed that But it s very important that our properties can be played online and offline, play alone and then play with friends,” says Guillemot.

When asked about Assassin’s Creed switching to a subscription-based service like Call of Duty is rumored to, Guillemot said, “I’d say that CoD is already charging customers for its service as Activision are already launching DLC regularly customers are already buying content.”

“When asked about how the previous DLC single-player episodes did,” he said, “They were successful at the level we expected. Offline DLC packs are generally not as successful as online DLC. The problem with offline is that many people don t finish games, so when you give them more levels they ask, I still haven t finished the game, why should I buy that When everyone is online, they experience new things as a community that encourages them to buy more.”

Source: MCV

Games Most Popular Category For iPad Apps

Nielsen recently surveyed 5,000 consumers on their use of their tablet computer, eReader, netbook, media/games player, or smartphone. In particular with the iPad, games were the most popular category, with 62 percent of owners buying a digital game.

This trend is similar to the iPhone, although Books are a much more popular catergory on the iPad with 54 percent downloading a book for their iPad. While roughly a third of users aren’t downloading any apps at all to their iPad, 63 percent are open to paid app downloads.